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Patient concerns prompt Swedish to largely ban practice of overlapping surgeries

Posted Thursday, August 10, 2017 by Tyler Goldberg-Hoss

Swedish Hospital has largely stopped the practice of overlapping surgeries in response to the concerns made by the public.

As you may recall, this largely came to light after the Seattle Times ran a series of investigative stories about the practice at Swedish in February. You can read earlier blog posts on the topic of overlapping surgeries here and here. Since that time, Swedish has undergone management changes, and doctors and other health care providers have left.

Swedish’s new CEO, Dr. Guy Hudson, described the new policy to a reporter for the Seattle Times on Monday, August 7. Now, surgeons must be present for the “substantial majority” of each surgical procedure. However, they are not required to be present during parts of the beginning or end of each surgery. The Times article doesn’t otherwise spell out what “substantial majority” means, although a fair reading is that it is more than 50%, and certainly more than the “critical portions” of surgical cases that surgeons were required to be at prior to the change.

Additionally, staff will document the times surgeons enter and exit the operating room. One would hope this change ensures compliance with the “substantial majority” requirement for presence in the surgery.

It is unclear whether the other Seattle hospitals who allow overlapping surgeries – Virginia Mason and University of Washington – will follow Swedish’s lead. With an informed patient population, one would think that Swedish’s push to increase the perception of public safety if not actual safety (Dr. Hudson noted that overlapping surgery is in fact safe) would be good for business, particularly if their competitors fail to follow suit. Alternatively, Swedish may make less money because it is not able to do as many surgeries as before.

Time will tell.

You can read the Seattle Times article here:

Swedish Health largely bans overlapping surgeries

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